Valentino Rossi To Change Crew Chiefs Again – David Muñoz To Replace Silvano Galbusera

For the second time in his MotoGP career, Valentino Rossi is to change crew chiefs. At the end of the 2019 season, David Muñoz, currently crew chief for Nicolo Bulega in the Sky Racing Team VR46 Moto2 team, will replace Silvano Galbusera as crew chief for Rossi in the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team.

The news was first broken by Spanish daily AS.com early on Thursday, and confirmed by Rossi later in the pre-event press conference for the Thailand round of MotoGP at Buriram. "Yes, it's true," Rossi said in response to a question from Mela Chercoles, the journalist who broke the story. "Next year I will change my chief mechanic. It was good, because after the Misano race we spoke with Silvano, because we want to try to do something to be stronger."

Rossi explained that there were a number of factors involved. "It was different factors together, because also Silvano wanted to work for Yamaha but he wanted to try something with less stress and also with less days out of Italy. At the same time Yamaha wanted to try to make the test team stronger for next year to improve the work in Europe. I didn’t expect it at the beginning but speaking together we decided to change so Silvano will go to the test team next year."

From Moto2 to MotoGP

Rossi's new crew chief, David Muñoz, is currently in the Sky Racing Team VR46 Moto2 squad, where he is working with Nicolo Bulega. Rossi already knows quite a lot about Muñoz, as the Spaniard helped Pecco Bagnaia win the Moto2 title last year. "It is a new experience and he doesn’t have any experience with the MotoGP bike but he is very young and has good ideas," Rossi said.

What had impressed Rossi most about Muñoz was the way he had remained calm at the end of Bagnaia's title season, managing both his rider and the bike as the Italian came under pressure from title rival Miguel Oliveira. "I like the way he managed it at the end of the season, there was a lot of pressure and Pecco was a little bit nervous to lose the championship with Oliveira, I liked him. He is quiet and the way he managed the situation worked."

Yamaha's gain is of course the Sky VR46 team's loss. "I asked him and unfortunately it is something negative for our team as he is something very important for our team but we decided to try so we will see," Rossi said.

The future in his hands

Underlying Rossi's move to change crew chiefs is the pending decision on his future in racing, on whether he will seek a new contract for 2021 or retire at the end of 2020. He hinted at this in his responses in the press conference. "I have the contract for next year and for the future it depends very much on the results of next year." Rossi has previously said that he wants to see how he fares in the first six or seven races of 2020 before drawing any conclusions about whether he should retire or not.

Rossi expanded on this in his remarks to Italian journalists after the press conference was over. If there is the possibility of 2020 being his last season, then he didn't want to go out without having tried everything to make a success of it, the Italian said. "It would be worse if I didn't try it," Rossi said. "I would rather live without any regrets. Someone else in my position might have said, OK, maybe 2020 is my last season, maybe it's more comfortable leaving everything the same. I was thinking, let's try, dammit. We have to try our best. The worst thing can happen is that it doesn't work, but I will not have any regrets."

The biggest risk in the change is that David Muñoz has no experience working in MotoGP. But Rossi does not see that as a problem. "Maybe this change will need some time, but in MotoGP now, the chief mechanic doesn't work alone. There are at least three or four engineers who help with the electronics, with the balance of the bike. But we will see."

Coordinator in chief

As MotoGP machines have grown more complicated, the role of the crew chief has changed. Areas have become more specialized, with engineers working increasingly in specific niches. As a consequence, crew chiefs have taken on more of a supervisory role, listening to the feedback of their rider, coordinating the various people in the team and orchestrating their work.

This has made having knowledge of every specific part of the bike less important, and placed more of an emphasis on having a fundamental understanding of vehicle dynamics. For that reason, many current crew chiefs are former suspension technicians who have expanded their roles.

Rossi's split with Galbusera has at least been handled better than the previous split with Jeremy Burgess. The news of the switch to Muñoz came out after conversations with Galbusera. That had not been the case for Burgess, who found out after news that Rossi was considering a switch leaked in the Italian media. Burgess told the media he felt he had been 'blindsided' by Rossi's decision, whereas Galbusera had been at least been involved in the discussions previously.

Looking to the future

Will Rossi's decision make a difference to his results? One driving factor behind Rossi's decision is the difference in age. Muñoz is much younger than Galbusera, and Rossi will be hoping that the energy of youth will help his performance.

But in reality, Rossi's future lies more in the hands of the engineers in Japan, rather than the personnel at the track. There has already been more movement and development from Japan than in previous years, with Rossi and teammate Maverick Viñales able to test early prototypes of the 2020 Yamaha M1 at the Brno and Misano tests, and Yamaha bringing a carbon swingarm and updated exhaust to Misano, as well as electronics updates.

If Yamaha can continue with that pace of development, they have a chance to catch Ducati, Suzuki, and Honda. And in that case, Rossi will have a chance to understand his real potential against Marc Márquez, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, and more importantly, teammate Viñales and Petronas Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo. That is the basis on which he will eventually make a decision about continuing.


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Comments

Published in 2005 and still relevant today, Rossi continues to be driven by seeing what he can accomplish and is willing to change just about anything to find out.  He has followed the changes in body positions (even introducing the leg dangle), brutal training schedules,  new crew cheifs, dirt track practice and breaking up with girlfriends to be more focused.  No doubt he will give 2020 his all.

He is also a bit "tuning fork" with his context. Intuitively sensitive, in connection with seemingly less related factors. He puts all the stickers on his bike himself. Ritualistic. A bit of a shaman.

He is also a community guy. Before assuming he has screwed Galbusera, don't rule out that Vale is seeing how he can best help both he and Munoz for their futures. Galbusera just did 5 yrs dancing in the circus and wants to be in Italy now.

Munoz is an up and coming Sky46 kid, this time a crewchief one. Elder Vale can guide him. Together they can make it fresh and have fun. And, fresh and fun Vale is fast.

I appreciate that racing decisions are normally taken on a by season basis but if I were Vale (haha), having made the decision to bring in Munoz I’d do so without delay. He may be confident that Munoz will step up to the challenge next season, but Vale doesn’t have time to spare and in what could be his last season unless it goes well, for both their sakes, I’d want him to start learning now. 

He shoulda gone back to Jeremy Burgess. Jeremy has proven himself and it's possible that when they went to Ducati together they both mighta been a bit cocky and ultimately deflated to then having to transition back to Yamaha with their confidence a bit battered. 

Theres nothing more humbling than to be grounded, I think it gives you extra motivation to really re-prove your worth and it proves to be a great experience. 

 

I understood it that Sylvania wanted out and that was the catalyst.

Richtea's comment sounds plausible too.

I always wondered who pays the crew chiefs? Is it normally the manufacturer/team owner, or do riders help pay to keep certain technicians working with them? Or maybe both?

I hope before he hangs up his leathers he does at least one year in World Superbike.

Are we are looking at the wrong side of the toast?

What may be very important in this development is that Silvano will now be the crew chief for Yamaha's expanded...and expanding...European Test Program. Vale has made no secret of his desire for Yamaha to further leverage the ETP, and with good reason. The future is all expanded race schedules and reduced testing days (for factory riders), placing far more weight on the results the ETP can bring forward. Monster/Yamaha have reportedly sent Iwata a serious proposal to employ Zarco next year as their principle European Test Rider (plus maybe a few wildcard appearances, which can be ledgered as "Mental Health" expenditures). No word back from Iwata if they will approve such a move, but the rationale is clear: The test circuits available to Yamaha in Japan are pretty much paved goat tracks, the available riders in Japan are slow(ish) by MotoGP standards, and the technicians do not have a direct connection to what has been happening Sundays in MotoGP Land. The current Yamaha ETP has been a step in the right direction, but appears to lack the needed vigor. Adding someone with Silvano's experience and direct knowledge to the ETP brings it to a whole different level. It is also a position that Galbusera not only accepts, but embraces. The MotoGP travel schedule is brutal, and there just comes a time in your life when airports and sleep depravation lose their appeal.

The "in the box" change also has its benefits. Vale's bike is seldom fast off the trailer these days (and that is, to me, a very important criteria for a great crew chief), and his P3/Q-Session strategies have varied between barely acceptable...and comically inept. And while it is probably not fair to put all of that on Silvano, when the time comes for for someone to apologize to the Emperor and jump on his master's sword, everyone is looking at the crew chief, not the hospitality chef. It may be argued that Vale has always been a "Sunday" rider able to seemingly conjure jack-rabbits at will from under his helmet on race day. Personally I find that song has become a bit tiresome in its repetition. Honestly, a lot of that goes back to the pre-Bridgestone days when Michelin would custom cook a set of race-day tires for Vale and have them flown in at the last minute (based on everything they learned in practice). Secondly, a lot of the genius Burgess brought to his partnership with Rossi was the knack of tuning the chassis so Vale had a clear and definitive advantage over the last ten laps of the race. Remember, this was back in the day when it was possible to cook a race tire right off the rim on Sunday, so whoever had the best of things at the end of a race really was Happy Jack. And there just weren't that many fast guys to worry about if you were slotted a few rows back on the grid. All would be well at the end of a race.

Well, you can just kiss all of that goodbye. The grid is now chock full of determined young men on fast motorcycles that are a complete PITA to pass. And modern race tires, especially the softer Michelin compounds, do not melt off their rims these days. If you are not at the sharp end of the grid in P2, P4, and Q2, you will not be on the podium. So Muñoz brings a fresh perspective, and as David rightly points out to us, possibly a big increase in focus and energy in Vale's box, and I cannot make a case that these are not needed.

So all of this strikes me as a positive for Rossi and Yamaha. As long as they don't drop the double-jammed toast on the floor. Cheers.

 

Of course I am a Rossi fan and it would be great that this change would work well and see Rossi win again!

But if it doesn't, what will happen to talent like Quartararo? There is a small number of factory seats. Zarco moved to KTM. Will Quartararo have the needed support to excel in the furure?

(My English are not the best, hope you get the point)

^ Great english, welcome and please keep posting even if with language errors. Lots of fluent speakers here spell like shit and are fine.
:)
Quartararo looks to be getting a full factory bike next year and happy where he is now. Good question about the future and his patience if Rossi re signs for 2021. And, how the different bikes progress while he waits.

Do you think Rossi goes longer than 2020?
How will the bikes look in a year relative to now?

Ducati wants a rider badly. Quartararo is smart and seems focused, patient. Does he want a Duc factory seat bike and a big pile of money?

Honda may have two openings (Cal, Jorge) coming. Would they have a try at Quartararo? Would he want that bike?

Bikes, I am guessing that the Yamaha is getting MUCH better in a year. The Honda will handle a bit better and provide more front end feel in a year, but not enough to be "cured" and great in that department. The Ducati will evolve a bit, but less than these two in that time, small changes. Maybe a horsepower step in a war with Honda, Red's bailiwick. Suzuki is anyone's guess. Hoping for a surprise. Their 2nd team and a major sponsor, can that come? And draw a rider like Quartararo? No idea here. The KTM is coming!

Quartararo will not go KTM. Nor Honda. For similar reasons, feel. Suzuki? Big question mark, based on conjecture. Ducati may offer a HUGE salary, and look tempting for yet another NASA space journey into the unknown. I doubt it! But the money would be huge. And it is a great bike! For some riders.

Quartararo is Yamaha's to lose. I think Rossi gets beaten by him next year and has a graceful sunset into "something more exciting now" for him merging VR46 with Factory Yamaha, and an Italian academy. Blue plus glow Yellow = Monster. Quarty to Factory Yamaha.

Bet you a cookie
:)

Ha! You said it all! "Am agreed" as vale says.

But about the progress of bikes etc we should take account of THE parameter of the equation, which is Michelin... They have a huge power to manipulate the game. Let's hope they wont  change the tyres when Yamaha fits them as we witnessed after Mack s wins. Goodmorning!